1 – South Africa is one of Project Trust’s biggest country programmes in terms of the number of volunteers and there are a huge variety of projects available there from teaching, to social care, to Outward Bound. It means there isn’t anything specific in the volunteering roles which define the Volunteer experience in South Africa, but what does link all the projects is adding value to the host organisations. Volunteers add to the existing skill base at projects, be that through English language, extracurricular activities or just having the time and enthusiasm to support the work of other members of staff. We’re seeing great progress in projects where Volunteers are working with nursery-age children who have grown up in care to help them enter primary school at the same educational level as children who have been brought up in family homes – it’s a great example of how Volunteers are adding value to young peoples’ lives.
2 – This is my third year as South Africa Desk Officer. It is interesting going back to projects multiple times – it’s at a stage now where the young people the Volunteers are working with recognise me and they gave me a really warm welcome when I arrived. It’s a very fulfilling experience because you know you’ve been a part of the Volunteers’ making a positive impact on their lives for a sustained period of time. I hadn’t expected it at all, and it was a really lovely surprise.
3 – Two of our long-running projects in South Africa are Bethany Children’s Home and Tembelihe Children’s Home, both in Mthatha, which have been running for 13 and 10 respectively. Seeing the duel benefit of those projects, for the young people in the children’s homes and the Project Trust Volunteers, sustained year-on-year is really amazing. Prior to working with Bethany and Tembelilhe, we sent volunteers to a project called Ikhwezi Lokusa since 1979, with the common link being the Sisters at the Convent who have been of great support to us for all these years. That such a great organisation has continued its relationship with Project Trust for so long is a real endorsement of the hard work and achievements of all of our Volunteers.